Category Archives: Pipeline Route

2nd Tree Sit on Bent Mountain


Another tree sit has been launched in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline! MVP’s threats to remove Red, a landowner, from her own property have prompted a second tree-sit on her property….probably not what MVP expected as the outcome of their bullying.

Further information on the Bent Mountain tree sits from a Facebook post by Liz Arthur: “We have been watching, hiking, recording, and doing anything else we can to keep track of MVP crews and their contractors who consistently stray out of their Limits of Disturbance zones, block landowners from their own private roads, and do all they can get away with until confronted with the paperwork proving they are in violation (yes – I have physically seen all of these things happen). It is a tedious, exhausting task that the landowners and their neighbors have to carry out because there is seemingly NO oversight by any agency – local, state, federal – when it comes to what MVP is doing here on the ground. These people have battled in court for years over this, they have turned down offer after offer for access to their land (which, by the way, includes many pristine creeks that flow into the main water sources of all of Roanoke, endangered species of bats and birds, and incredibly steep and rugged terrain that is difficult to hike, much less pump gas through), and now they are forced to take time off from their jobs in order to ensure that MVP follows the orders and agreements that they have fought so hard to secure in court.

“Red, the Coffey’s neighbor, has resigned to sitting in her trees. The land she sits on has been in her family for 6 generations. The streams on their property (deemed to be cut straight through by MVP) provide well water for the community and flow into Roanoke’s main water sources. Her family turned down every offer MVP made them. However, the courts granted MVP limited access to her property (that is supposed to be subject to strict guidelines) and the pipeline will run right through it. This is the reality for many pieces of private property on Bent Mountain. Red’s sit shouldn’t be a problem for MVP, as the tree cutting was supposed to stop after the March 31st deadline put in place to protect local wildlife during reproductive and migratory seasons.

So – why should we care?

If it can happen here, it will continue to happen everywhere. I care because I don’t want to live in a country where my private property can be seized from me for the sole purpose of corporate profit. The proposed pipeline would deform terrain, destroy creek beds, devalue all surrounding land, and could potentially (as has happened over and over across the country) contaminate our water sources (yes, including the rest of Roanoke). I have been hiking around the proposed route. In many areas the angles and sharp turns are unbelievably extreme for a hiker, much less for millions of gallons of highly explosive gas barreling through some pipes. It’s hard to imagine that nothing would go disastrously wrong. All of this, just so a few people can make some money for a few years until this process is outdated.

“Please spread the word and help us hold MVP accountable. We obey the law, and so should they.”

Road Closures for ACP in GW National Forest Still Undecided

Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance reports that public access to roads in the George Washington National Forest (GWNF) during construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is still an unresolved issue. At this writing, the U.S. Forest Service has not yet issued a notice regarding what roads might be closed to the public in the GWNF while the ACP is being built. Conversations ABRA recently has had with the GWNF indicate it is unclear when decisions on road closures will be made.

In contrast, the Supervisor of the Monongahela National Forest signed on March 7, 2018, a 120-day closure notice for certain roads in that Forest associated with ACP activity. And, a notice associated with the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline through the Jefferson National Forest. which is under the authority of the same forest supervisors as the GWNF, was signed on March 30. It calls for a two-year closure of specified roads.

Protesters Still in Trees


Protesters have occupied trees on Peters Mountain in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline for a full month, preventing its construction.

As a showdown looms, they seem to have the support of many local residents along the southeast border of West Virginia.

A post from Chesapeake Climate Action Network‘s Mike Tidwell tells us, “When the pipeline companies tried to get Monroe County Circuit Court judge Robert Irons to remove the protestors, the judge said this: ‘There is no showing that there is a national shortage of gas, an emergency requiring immediate need of delivery of gas…or some other factor causing irreparable harm.’ In fact, the judge continued, the public’s interest is more closely aligned with the tree-sitters. The protestors ‘generally represent the interest of the public and the environment, such as the interest in protecting the waters underlying Peters Mountain, its flora and fauna, its view shed, the Appalachian Trail and similar interests that will or may be destroyed, if this request for a preliminary injunction is granted.'”

Meanwhile, another protestor has taken to the trees on private land in Roanoke County.  See news reports from the Richmond Times-Dispatch and WSLS.

Appalachians Against Pipelines confirmed on April 3, 2018, that the US Forest Service was preventing ground support from delivering food and water to the monopod blockade on Peters Mountain. Other forms of harassment include searching bags at the gate before folks approach the pod, shining bright lights on the sitter all night long, and maintaining a 24/7 armed forest service presence around the blockade.

Appalachians Against Pipelines says the state’s actions are cowardly and put the sitter’s safety at risk; they ask that people call the US Forest Service and local law enforcement to protest:
US Forest Service: 540-265-5100
Dublin State Police Office: 540-643-2560
Wytheville State Police Office: 800-542-8716

Dominion’s Assault on the Blue Ridge


An update from the Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative, Alleghany-Blue Ridge Alliance:

As reported previously, aerial photographs of apparent unauthorized construction work where Dominion Energy proposes to drill through the Blue Ridge Mountains for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline were obtained during recent surveillance flights conducted by the Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI), a program of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA). Requests for investigation and clarification were submitted to FERC and the Virginia DEQ.

In response to media inquiries concerning “noncompliance with restrictions against earth disturbance and construction prior to receipt of required approvals,” Dominion spokesman, Aaron Ruby, asserted that the company is doing nothing of the sort, and that it is instead doing a geotechnical survey. See Pipeline prep area allegedly being constructed, citizen group files against FERC, News Leader, 3/23/18

CSI Investigator, David Sligh, has responded on behalf of ABRA, objecting to Mr. Ruby’s characterization of the construction activity and noting that over a year ago, when pipeline opponents objected to inadequate geotechnical study of the proposed drilling, Dominion responded by declaring that geotechnical investigation had been “fully accomplished.” See Dominion’s pipeline story doesn’t add up, Letter to News Leader, 3/30/18

The Backstory and a Warning 

Dominion intends to drill 4,639 feet through the Blue Ridge under the George Washington National Forest, Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and Blue Ridge Parkway. Dominion’s plans call for use of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) and contingency use of direct pipe installation (DPI) if the HDD operation fails. Given the topographic and geophysical challenges at the site, the Forest Service initially conditioned any authorization for ACP construction on prior successful completion of the proposed HDD or DPI operations. This condition would have avoided a situation in which significant investment associated with premature ACP construction would be put at risk and in direct conflict with established legal protection of highly valued public resources. Should the HDD and DPI prove impracticable after ACP construction is underway, there will be a strong incentive for allowing an open-cut crossing of the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The proposed drilling operations will have an extreme environmental footprint, requiring extensive excavation for entry and exit workspace, pipe pullback, fabrication, and testing workspace, as well as siting of heavy equipment for pipe handling, and a network of access roads – all on steep mountainsides with multiple stream crossings. As with other aspects of the ACP, the public and regulatory review agencies have not had access to detailed construction plans. The areas and amount of excavation required for construction have been imprecisely specified at best.

The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition published a report in early 2017 describing both the risk of failure and the unavoidable environmental damage associated with the plans for drilling through the Blue Ridge. This report described the risk factors confronting both the HDD and contingency DPI operations. Although detailed geophysical investigation of the drill path is standard practice for assessing the feasibility of prospective HDD and DPI operations, the information considered during environmental review was limited in both scope and reliability. No subsurface borings were completed at or near the HDD endpoints and geophysical survey data were obtained for less than 25% of the drill path. See A High-Risk Proposal: Drilling Through the Blue Ridge Mountains for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Now, we learn that Dominion Energy is belatedly collecting data that should have been collected and made available during environmental review. 

Dominion Energy knows how to game the system:  defer collection and analysis of essential environmental data until after the review process is concluded and approvals have been obtained. 

Further info:

CSI Incident Report – submitted to DEQ, 3/13/18

Request for Investigation – Submitted to FERC, 3/22/18

Environmental Justice in Buckingham County

A March 25, 2018, article in the Atlanta Black Herald discusses How a Historically Black Virginia Community is Taking On a Pipeline and Rebuking the Gospel of Fossil Fuels.

“God wants to build a pipeline. More specifically, he wants the Koch brothers, the controversial right-wing billionaires and petrochemical moguls, to shepherd this divine intervention of natural gas along a 600-mile path from West Virginia to North Carolina, cutting through rural Buckingham County, Virginia, south of Richmond. This was the largely veiled message behind a well-attended December 2016 gospel event held at a community center in Richmond’s East Highland Park neighborhood where hundreds of mostly African-American area residents praised the skies above while celebrity musical acts commanded the stage.

“Unbeknownst to many attendees, the mission of the event itself was anything but holy. Part of a well-funded propaganda campaign, the concert was sponsored by Fueling US Forward, a fossil fuel advocacy group supported by Koch Industries, and included an intermission panel with industry lobbyists promoting an increased reliance on fossil fuels and such giveaways as the paying-off of attendees’ power bills….

“But some area residents know a false prophet when they see one. ‘We’re dealing with environmental injustice because here in the Union Hill communities it’s predominantly Black,’ said John Laury, a native of Buckingham who raises cattle on his scenic 98-acre farm. ‘They anticipated choosing us here in a predominantly Black area because they anticipated the least resistance. But they have received more resistance than they had anticipated.'”

As a bonus, listen to John and Ruby Laury, living in the compressor station target zone in Buckingham County, speak on environmental justice.

Read the full article here. Another article on the same topic is here.

VADEQ Issues “Notice of Violation” Against ACP

DEQ Takes Enforcement Action Against Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, March 9, 2018

Contact: Ann Regn, (804) 698-4442, ann.regn@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. – The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP) on March 16, 2018, for failing to maintain adequate limits of disturbance during tree felling operations in violation of Virginia’s State Water Control Law. These limits forbid work within buffer zones to protect stream and wetland crossings during pipeline development, and are instrumental to the protection of Virginia’s environment and natural resources.

The NOV identifies violations on 15 separate sites resulting in an estimated 0.84 acres in impact to wetlands and streams.

“DEQ is watching pipeline activities closely and expects full compliance with all conditions,” said David K. Paylor, Director. “We will not hesitate to initiate enforcement actions like this to make sure the project complies with good environmental standards.”

The NOV requires ACP representatives to contact DEQ within 10 days to discuss how to remedy the situation and explain how they will prevent future violations.

While limited tree felling is allowed, the activity cannot impact riparian areas. Furthermore, land disturbance cannot begin until all of the erosion and sediment and stormwater control plans required for all sections of the project are approved by DEQ. “The agency’s review of the project has been the most thorough in the history of the Commonwealth, and the enforcement will be as rigorous,” said Director Paylor.

The issuance of an NOV is the first step in triggering enforcement action by DEQ. Enforcement actions are frequently resolved with payment of a civil charge and required action to correct the violation. A copy of the NOV can be obtained on DEQ’s webpage http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/Enforcement/NaturalGasPipelines/ACPLLCFinalNOV03162018.pdf

The 600-mile underground Atlantic Coast Pipeline originates in West Virginia and travels through Virginia and North Carolina. The pipeline is being developed jointly by Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas. Though the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has independent authority over many of the procedures related to federal pipeline development, DEQ is able to exercise enforcement authority over many aspects of the project.
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Early press coverage of the Notice of Violation in the Roanoke Star and The Recorder.